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Brian Schmetzer warns against overlooking Loons

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Sounders head coach well aware of personnel changes but wants players focusing on themselves.

MLS: D.C. United at Minnesota United FC Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The Sounders have been riding high and are full of confidence going into tonight’s home match against Minnesota United, having just handed the Loons a 4-0 thumping in their house just two weeks ago to briefly claim first place in the West.

Talking to the media on Saturday, Sounders FC Head Coach Brian Schmetzer hinted that he would be looking for contributions beyond his ideal 11. “We’re going to try to get them all on the field, throw them out there and see what they can do,” he said. However Schmetzer emphasized that the team cannot afford to underestimate the Loons, adding “It’s not going to be an easy game.”

Schmetzer said the team has prepped and has a game plan for Minnesota but noted the importance of teamwork in executing it.

For me it comes down to one of those games where yes we’ve prepared the team for [Forward Christian] Ramirez, we’ve prepared the team for [Midfielder Kevin] Molino, we’ve shown them clips of [Midfielder Ethan] Finlay just in case they’ve somehow forgotten him. We prepare the players, but our team is most important. If we can dictate tempo and all of that, then some of that stuff [the video work] is always in the back of their mind. What are Finlay’s tendencies? What are Molino’s tendencies? What are Ramirez’s tendencies? Hopefully we’ll be pushing the attack and it will be less of an issue.

We would love to do that [dictate the tempo and push the attack] every game, but our most recent one, against Sporting KC, they came out and out-possessed us in the first half. It was our intention — it is our intention every game — to dictate tempo and pace, especially at home, but we are also not afraid to do that on the road. Every game manifests itself a little differently, but, yes, we are always trying to be on the front foot and try to push the game.

One player who could be a difference maker for Minnesota tonight, if he sees any significant time on the field, is Ramirez. The Loons’ top attacking threat (11 goals) missed the Aug. 5 match against the Sounders with a hamstring injury. He practiced and is expected to play though possibly only as a late substitute as he is still listed as questionable. “He’s their leading goal scorer,” Schmetzer said. “He’s a quality player — a different dimension than Danladi of last game. He still likes to stretch the field. He’ll run on the back shoulder of the back four, but he’s just a big strong kid. It changes a lot.”

What about the expected Minnesota debut of newly-acquired Midfielder Ethan Finlay from Columbus Crew? Schmetzer said “We’ve played against Finlay on different occasions, but how he fits in with their group is certainly the question mark.”

How to Watch

Date/Time: Sunday, August 20 7:00 PM

Venue: CenturyLink Field

Television: FOX Sports 1

Radio: KIRO 97.3 FM (English), El Rey 1360 AM (Spanish)

Streaming: Fox Sports Go